Chopped Romaine Lettuce Linked to E. Coli Outbreak

35 sick from E. Coli outbreak traced to romaine lettuce

For the time being no common grower, supplier, brand or distributor has been identified for this outbreak.

According to the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, three cases of E. coli illnesses are linked to a multi-state E. coli outbreak.

Laura Gieraltowski, Ph.D., M.P.H., who leads the Foodborne Outbreak Response Team at the CDC, predicts there will be more reports of illness in the days and weeks ahead.

Some local grocers, such as Albertsons and Safeway, removed bagged salads and deli items containing romaine lettuce from stores, Albertsons communications and community relations manager Kathy Holland wrote in an email.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 35 people from 11 other states have also been sickened.

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Health officials have confirmed E. coli cases in Missoula, Flathead, and Ravalli counties, including three hospitalizations. It can take up to 3 to 4 days for symptoms to appear, meaning more cases may be forthcoming.

People infected range in age from 12 to 84 years old with a median age of 29. No death has been reported so far, but of those who fell ill, 22 have been hospitalized including three people who have developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome.

A multistate E. coli outbreak has sent at least 22 people to the hospital prompting health officials to advise consumers across the country to throw out any store-bought chopped romaine lettuce, including prepackaged salads and salad mixes. Twenty-six (93%) of 28 people interviewed reported consuming romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started. The symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea and fever.

Consumer Reports said it would be hard for buyers to tell where the romaine was grown, which is why they are saying consumers should avoid romaine altogether until the threat passes.

According to a spokesperson for Covelli Enterprises, which owns more than 300 Panera restaurants, the company has found a new supplier from outside the Yuma, Arizona region to provide romaine.

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